After feeling rather underwhelmed by Ramesses’ Chrome Pineal (at best, an incoherently executed and half-baked EP) it’s an absolute relief to hear a dense, gut-punch of conviction like “Invisible Ritual”. Dipping ever so slightly into the murky production of black metal, the album’s opening track is a concise exercise in energy and volume – fierce, razor guitars grind over a lo-fi drum production that risks losing all rhythmic footing in the sludge, while the groans of Adam Richardson stagger between howls of pain and guttural psychosis.
The band fare best when convulsing as one great gloop of distortion, as demonstrated in this opening track and at several other points throughout: most notably, during the repetitious death march of “Plague Beak”, the sinister powerchord mush of “Duel”, and the ever-intensifying gloom of the title track. The faintest whiff of Electric Wizard’s raw jams can sometimes be sensed in the album’s more mesmeric and unhinged riff workouts (not so much of a surprise, being the band Tim Bagshaw and Mark Greening initially came from), but atmospherically, comparisons are largely futile. Where Wizard bludgeon their riffs into weary circles via the brain-numbing power of drugs, Ramesses unlock the inner evil of ancient curses, becoming lured into ominous loops and entombed against their will.
The sound explored in Chrome Pineal isn’t abandoned entirely though, and it’s most negative elements can be found seeping into this record too – the likes of “Sol Nocivo” and “Safety In Numbness” feel lost in mazes of their own making, winding up in soulless outros that spiral away from natural conclusion. While I’m never one to criticise the use of repetition in excess, some of these tracks simply aren’t built on sturdy enough foundations to withstand it.
That said, the record’s most repetitious sections are often its most captivating – it’s just easy to identify when this is driven out of surplus indulgence, and when it seems derived in a otherworldly, hypnotic compulsion to never ever cease. When caught within the latter, Possessed By The Rise Of Magik can be truly under-the-skin stuff; black and treacle-thick, pulsing with a sinister power that feels embedded in fantastical ancient myth.